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Photography Fridays

So on Wednesday I saw that the mountains looked really nice, and so did the sky during sunset. Why is that? The gross inversion that envelops the city every year. Let’s admit it. It looks pretty but it’s a killer. Since I couldn’t leave campus after 5PM due to work, I snagged my camera and took pictures of the mountain ranges to the west and to the south. I’m glad I did. I found out that I wasn’t the only one wanting to take pictures- a few other people were doing it, too!

Please do not repost this image. Copyright belongs to me.
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Dreams of Travel

You know the whole nature vs. nurture thing? I wonder about it sometimes. In a post from about two weeks ago, when I talk about swimming, I said I was “born to be a water girl.” Honestly, I love the stuff. It’s still a goal to swim in a lake and a river. But that’s a tangent. Do I love the water so much because I grew up in two states that was surrounded by water on at least three sides? Was it because I was on the swim team for a bit and grew to love that? It was likely caused by my environment, not who I am.

What does this have to do with anything, you ask? Well, I ask because I’m also a traveler. I love to travel, and I get restless if I sit in one place too long without a change of scenery. I can only change my scenery so much without a car. In this situation, my desire to travel was caused by my dad. He took the family places all the times. Canada, Mexico, Japan, the Bahamas, a ton of states. Lots of national parks. And road trips. Those are a blast. I’ve been traveling since I was a few months old. Now that I’m in college, I don’t get to do it often. Poor college kid and all.

First Google image if you type in “poor college student.” We get shirts?!

There’s something refreshing about hopping in a car and traveling somewhere you’ve never been. The view outside of the car changes. You blast music- or, in my family’s case, Dad picks something to listen to and moves it up to the front of the car so the kids can blast their music with headphones in. You talk and laugh and maybe have a hard time hearing what’s being said at the front, and then there’s a lot of yelling. You have a map to know where you’re going, but maybe something looks interesting so you go there for a bit. Hello, 18-something’s town. Then you lose cell service and if you don’t have a map, you better hope the one driving wants to stop for directions instead of driving aimlessly.

But that’s life, right?

This is what my family does during road trips.
 

I talked with a friend last night, and we got onto the topic of traveling. I think we both agreed a road trip is a cool thing. I don’t actually remember, because I’m running on 4 1/2 hours of sleep and quite a few things have slipped my mind, despite my attention to details. I just remember I said road trips are cool. I recall saying something about how I wanted to road trip somewhere I had never been, to somewhere radically different from where I’d grown up, and take pictures of everything. Document the journey.

I’ve grown up in suburbia. I can tell you I’ve seen a lot of concrete and a heck of a lot of water and desert. To me, anything with more than a few trees is green. When my family went on a cross country road trip last year, I stared out the windows a good portion of the trip because there were trees everywhere. We joked, “What is this green stuff at the side of the road?” Then we were up north and there were all those fields, I found it interesting. For a bit. Then I became tired of seeing corn. But plants! Green! Not neon lights and metal and concrete!

WOOOOOO LIGHTS EVERYWHERE. LIGHTS AND IMPORTED FAKE TREES!

Of course, my friend laughed when I said certain places were green to me. He grew up in a place where there was green everywhere. The concept of someplace really green is foreign to me. Maybe, one day, when I have a car and money and can road trip, I’ll visit green places like his hometown. I’ll visit places with forests and rivers. I won’t do urban landscape, oh no. I can do natural landscapes. I’ve told one of my closest friends that we should do a road trip. It’s been a topic half of my friends have been going on about during summer. We keep thinking, “You know what? A road trip would be way fun.” We have different destinations in mind, though. One wants to go to San Diego. Another wants to go to another place in California. I want to go northwest- so Washington, Oregon, Idaho. (“Spokane’s a nice place,” is what my close friend said when I mentioned Washington.) I’d also like to go to the East Coast, but that’s more for history interests. Plus, I’ve been to the East Coast a lot. I want to spend a bit more time exploring the West Coast.

This ties in with something else my friend and I had talked about. Dreams. He had a lot of really cool dreams, but “none of them will come true.” That’s better than me, I told him. I didn’t really have dreams. Then it occurred to me that no, I do have a dream. A dream that’ll likely never come true because it’s 1) expensive and 2) kind of an all-or-nothing thing.

That dream is to travel the world and take photographs of all of the gorgeous places that exist on our planet.

This is the photo that I claim started it all. An accidental good shot.

I love photography. I’d love to be able to do something with it. But if it doesn’t work out, what do I do? Go back to being a linguistics major with no idea what to do with her life? Admittedly, I can probably get to traveling by being an ESL teacher. People want ESL teachers, right? Plus, if I improve my Japanese and learn Chinese and Korean, I can be a translator in those countries. Companies love multi-lingual people, right?

That’s probably the one dream I’ve had for a while, with slight changes. I just wanted to travel the world when I was little. Now, I want to travel the world, see the amazing sights, take photos of those amazing sights. Walk, bike, ride a train, bus, or taxis. I miss trains. That’s how I got around in Japan. Good memories. Also one of the only vehicles I can fall asleep in. Taste the food. Soak in the culture. Explore. Get lost. Go on adventures.

Innovations Roadmap #14

Goal [gohl]
Noun
1. the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end
2. the terminal point in a race
3. a pole, line, or other marker by which such a point is indicated
4. an area, basket, cage, or other object or structure toward or into which players of various games attempt to throw, carry, kick, hit, or drive a ball, puck, etc., to score a point or points
5. the act of throwing, carrying, kicking, driving, etc. a ball or puck into such an area or object
TOPIC: Personal goals and recommendations for yourself
One of my goals is simply to make it through college. I’m tired of college already and it’s only my first year. College does not seem like what everyone told me it would be. It’s only the first year, though, so I’ve got to give it time. Maybe I will. There’s a recommendation for myself. Try to make the best of my time in college. I’m not going to change how I am. I’m accepting that I’ve got problems meeting people. But I’m going to try to be more active with the friends I have. If people want to be my friend, they can do that.
One of my personal goals will be to relearn statistics because that’s the most useful kind of math I’m ever going to need. If I’m doing research, statistics will be something I’ve got to learn in order to make sense of the data I get. I’ve never been good at math, but this was honestly the first kind of math class I took in high school that made sense to me. Funnily enough, it was the last math class I took in high school. Four years and only one useful thing learned. But! Anyone can be good at something if they put their mind to. The brain can be rewired. I’m going to make sense of statistics and make it useful for me.
Aside from those school-related goals (it appears as though that’s a lot of my goals), I want to improve my photography skills. I’ll get used to carrying my camera everywhere. And when I see something I like, I’ll take the camera out and take a picture of the thing. I’m not going to give a damn about people giving me funny looks. I want to take pictures of things that appeal to me and are meaningful to me. I’m going to improve taking pictures of human subjects. I only ever take photos of nature because I don’t like photographing human subjects. I think my main problem with this one, though, is that I’m not comfortable asking people to be my subject and pose and things like that. I’ve always got ideas for interesting photos using people, but can’t do it because I can’t bring myself to ask someone to help.

I think the pictures of objects look better than the pictures with the human subjects. Except for the one on the left where my friend is jumped for the volleyball. That one looks awesome.

The next recommendation for myself is going to sound kind of strange. However, it is important for me and likely for others. That recommendation is: use the internet more. If I can’t take classes about graphic design or photograph or things like that, the internet is the next best thing. I’ll teach myself. I’m pretty good at teaching myself things. I’ve taught myself to knit, crochet, and sight read on the piano. I can’t tell you what notes they are right away just by looking at them, but tell me to point the notes out on a piano keyboard and I can do that quickly. The internet has so far only been used for my leisure. I’m going to teach myself to do the things I want to learn, because I can’t take those classes in college. I’m going to find a way to train my skills with the internet as a resource. Take everything on the internet with a grain of salt, I know. But when you can find the good stuff, it is good.

Two posters I made for my club. I wanted it to be cooler looking, but once again, no experience. That’s a problem.

Innovations Roadmap #8

Extracurricular [ek-struh-kuhrik-yuh-ler]
Adjective
1. outside the regular curriculum or program of courses
2. outside one’s regular work, responsibilities, or routine
TOPIC: What is the value of extracurricular activities?
Extracurricular activities teach a person what they do and don’t like to do. I think that people naturally gravitate toward activities they would like to do, but they learn in that experience. For example, they may develop frustration towards a certain concept. From what I’ve seen, this frequently is directed towards society. They note there’s a problem with society, and it frustrates them that this problem may even exist. In a really good situation, there may not be any. I used to and eventually intend to go back to a program called Knitting Necessities, where students can knit or crochet hats for newborns up at the hospital. I did originally think that there wasn’t a problem with this. Then, while looking around for what I could do as my ‘big problem,’ I saw there wasn’t a program for kids or adults. They deserve love too! Aside from that, I had no reason to be frustrated at any sort of societal problem.
It’s something that helps a person focus on how to develop the skills they need for whatever they want to do in life. For example, I want to be able to teach English, so my main volunteer effort currently involves teaching English to refugees. I can develop techniques, see what works, what doesn’t, and educate myself more on bridging cultural gaps and being sensitive to a culture way different from my own. In the end, extracurricular activities can give people new experiences.

The English Skills Learning Center, the place I volunteer at.

There are other extracurricular activities besides volunteer work. Sports, the fine arts, Model UNs (which my friends loved), student governments, clubs, competitions, sororities, fraternities… There are so many things that someone can get involved in. Another value that extracurricular activities have is teaching students new skills they may not already possess. It can awake a passion that the person may not even have known existed and opens up new areas to explore. It helps develops certain personality traits, certain skills, and certain behaviors that make people better human beings.

In addition to all of these wonderful things that extracurricular activities can do, it can also stave off boredom. I know some of the things I used to do that could be considered “extracurricular” were things that helped me keep myself entertained. Choir was like that. So was my creative writing club and ASL club. It also helps an individual meet new people. I’m 100% positive that if I had not joined my creative writing club, I would not have met the upperclassmen and underclassmen as I did. In some cases, maybe I had good reason for not wanting to meet them outside of a club setting. But in many of those cases, I never would have talked to them, because I was simply too shy. Having extracurricular activities encouraged me to meet new people and to swallow some of my shyness. I am still shy, but participating in these kinds of things taught me to be bold, because I will not get far if I can’t speak up. In many ways, extracurricular activities can give people a way to sample what they think is interesting, what they do and don’t like, and teach them some life lessons, without throwing them into the real world and making them suffer. They’re very useful and wonderful things to get into.

Innovations Roadmap #4

Mentor [men-tawr, -ter] 
Noun
1. A wise and trusted counselor or teacher
2. An influential senior sponsor or supporter
Verb (without object)
 3. to act as a mentor 
Verb (with object) 
4. to act as a mentor to

TOPIC: What makes a mentor helpful? How have you served as a mentor?

I can lie and say I have had no mentors. That’s not true, obviously. Everyone has a mentor, whether they know it or not. The main mentor is my dad. As aggravating and pushy as he can get, he means well. He’s helped me through preparing for college (while being pushy), with applying to scholarships (still pushy), and moving to college (not pushy). It’s the parts where he isn’t being pushy that usually makes me realize that he means well and wants to help me in any way he can. That is one of the key qualities of a mentor. They must mean well and want to help. It doesn’t have to be in any way, because I know there are limitations. The desire to help, however, is important as a mentor.


Several other key qualities I can think of are being supportive when they are unable to help, be the person you bounce ideas off of, and remaining a correspondent throughout your life. The bond forged between a mentor and the mentee is an important one, and I don’t see it being easily broken. In this way, parents can frequently be mentors. I consider both of my parents to be mentors. They support and teach me in two completely different ways, and I couldn’t be more grateful to them.

Mentors are helpful because they encourage growth. They make sure that the mentee grows mentally and emotionally. They’re there if an idea doesn’t work to make sure that the mentee can get right back on their feet and come up with a different approach. However, they should be able to leave the mentee to their own devices and not coddle them. They can perform a check-in every once in a while, but should not be hovering over a shoulder, making comments all the time. My mentor in my volunteer work does what I just described. He has been amazingly helpful when I need help teaching.
I have been a mentor plenty of times, but I usually don’t view myself as one. Nor does anyone ever call me a ‘mentor.’ I’ve helped students learning Japanese in two ways. One was more involved than the other because I was a volunteer that often graded papers. I would explain corrections when asked and help with any questions on homework. The long-term goal for these students was usually to pass a kanji test at the end of the year. The other time I helped students learn Japanese was when I was a Japanese student in high school. Being a ‘native’ speaker, I knew significantly more words, sentence patterns, and kanji than everyone else. People often turned to me for help, and I often checked in on people in my class (and those in lower classes, if I knew them well enough). In this case, the goal was to help them learn Japanese. I’d like to think I did a pretty good job with it.
I’m also a teacher for the English Skills Learning Center. A teacher can be a mentor. I’m not incredibly wise, like the above definition defines a mentor to be, but I am proficient enough in English and I am helping someone towards a goal and helping an organization solve a problem. The problem of the organization? Refuges in Salt Lake City need to learn English in order to be able to interact. The problem of my student? She needs to study for the citizenship test to become a U.S. citizen. The problem the organization tackles is the reason why I joined. Besides the fact that this volunteer work is helping me gain experience in a field I wish to join, helping refuges who are likely experiencing culture shock adapt to their surroundings is extremely important to me. With my student, I feel like I’m helping someone do something more. I check in on her twice a week, teach her, encourage her. I want to make sure she’s prepared for the test. Seeing her as an American citizen will be a huge reward. That’s a benefit to being a mentor. Knowing that when your mentee succeeds, they will be so proud of themselves, and that you’ll be proud of them to.


Time

Recently, I updated my facebook photos to include all the photos of food I’ve made. I tend to bake a lot, but as you all know, I can cook as well. I’ve got a few comments saying, “You should make a business with food!” or “I wish my daughter will learn to cook like you one day!” (That last one came from a friend’s mother who’s known me since I was a kid. It made me giggle.)

And it got me thinking. I’m not too spectacular with food. Everyone who reads my blogs knows that all my recipes (save two) are from other blogs or books. I don’t have the time to experiment. Maybe I will, with this new vegetarian diet. Finding ways to adapt meat recipes so that there’s vegetables instead of meat. Generally, I don’t stray too far from a given recipe. I’m afraid of screwing up and there goes some money that I used to get those ingredients. I can’t make a business with food. I’m a very ‘by-the-book’ cook. I can’t stray unless it’s for frosting or cake flavor, or something very easy and superficial. I can’t make things from scratch!

But no one ever tells me, “You should open a business with crochet/knit.” Okay, maybe a few. But they’re unicorns, trust me. Like cooking, I’m afraid of straying far from a pattern. My first attempt was an amigurumi of a character from an anime called Umineko no Naku Koro Ni. That turned out a little lopsided.

 Sakutaro. Look at all the beautiful mistakes.

Then, it was a keyhole scarf for charity. I messed up a little on the keyhole, but it worked. I didn’t try any free-handing for another year before deciding to mimic a blanket a relative of my dad’s made. It doesn’t look exact, but looks nice in its own way. Now I’m free-handing amigurumi and blankets and such.

I thought about what makes these two passions of mine so different. Why couldn’t I make up a recipe from scratch, but I can make up my own amigurumi pattern and accept it? I attribute it to time. I haven’t been cooking long. I really only started in August 2012, when I had two choices: make the long trek up to the cafeteria every single day or cook for myself. Cooking suddenly seemed really appealing, and it eventually developed into something I like doing. But I can’t come up with my own recipe because I haven’t been doing it long enough to feel comfortable with the foundation. On the other hand, I’ve been knitting since I was 12 and crocheting since about 14. I got my foundation and I’m ready to build up.

Persevere. Whenever something seems difficult, keep at it. You will become comfortable with it soon, then own it and do whatever you want with it. That’s how life works. Build your foundation, then build up. Be content in your own abilities, but work to improve on your base. That’s what artists do. That’s what musicians do. That’s what writers do. Everyone builds up their hobbies that’ll eventually become passions. Encouragement from close friends and family helps, but ultimately, it’s on what you decide to do over time. Do you continue or stop? Learn, learn, learn. Life is a learning experience.

Steadily crafting away

I’ve been way busy with homework recently, but in the midst of things, I’ve found time to start on some new projects. I think it’s more interesting to work on several projects at once than to do one project and finish, then do another and finish, and so on. It keeps me entertained. Admittedly, I haven’t been working on the projects much… It’s just a stitch here or there, in between screen pages loading and copying down notes. But I’ve got four very nice projects going on.

One is for myself, called the Penny Arcade jacket from Vickie Howell. I am in love with the stitches and I’m making it in a dark green color. It’ll look great when it’s finished!
The second is a Donald Duck blanket for my mother. I adapted a sweater chart and turned it into a blanket. My mom will love it, I have no doubt. Her love for Donald Duck knows no bounds.
I am making the Chromium Star Blanket and the Striped Blanket for my two dogs, Chester and Joey. Chester’s star blanket is being made from two yarns, a bulky brown and a bulky blue-brown-white striped. Joey’s is dark blue with dark blue camo additions. It’s for the dogs when they’re chilling on the couch at home (or in Joey’s case, in his cage). The last two are more stash busters than anything, but the colors work perfectly. My dogs get nothing but the best.
In addition to all of those, I’m making a nice scarf. It’s going to be a project I bring with me on the bus when I go do my volunteering. It’s small enough for me to bring without bothering anyone and interesting enough to keep my attention. I got about six inches done on the bus today. It looks pretty. I really love the yarn I used for it. I’ve made another scarf like it in a light blue, and that came out gorgeous.
That’s my crafting update! Have a good weekend, dear readers.

Finally home!

I came home to Vegas on the 15th. I had a friend from college stay at my house for the first five days of winter break, and she wanted to go see the Bellagio fountain. So we went to eat at Mon Ami Gabi across the street and got to see the Bellagio fountain that way. Three times. It was pretty cool! But I’d honestly forgotten how bright Vegas is.

My friend left on the 19th. I’ve really been enjoying my vacation so far. Up until two days ago, it’s been a mad rush to finish presents. I finished my aunt’s hat and found out she wants a scarf to go with it! I chose Smariek’s Triumph Cable Scarf to go with the hat. It works perfectly with the hat, and my aunt will really enjoy it, I think. Then, two days ago, I finished Nate’s scarf. He gets it on his birthday in approximately four days. He’ll love it. It’s six and a half feet long (easily), and he loves long scarves. I think of the three scarves I’ve made him so far, two of them have been double knit. This is (probably) the best one so far, because I’m combining his love for scarves and his love for Legend of Zelda. I’m rather fond of the pattern, to tell you the truth. It’s pretty!
My aunt’s hat!

No picture for the scarf yet because Nate does read this and I’m not spoiling it. 
Now I’m finishing a friend’s commission. She wanted a shark and gave me the pattern for it. That pattern challenged me by using all sorts of techniques I never thought of using. It looks fine, though! I’m also working on a blanket with the Portal guy on it. I’m only working on the orange portal because I only have one hook of the size I need. It’ll be cool when it’s finished!

Halloween Party!

The HSAC decided to throw a Halloween party (it’s not Halloween, but whatever floats their boat). There was a pie eating contest and a costume contest. I won third place as Belle. I’m embarrassed to admit that I forgot bits of that songs despite it being from my favorite Disney movie, but I remembered about 95%, so that works. Second place was Schrodinger’s Cat, and first place was Neo. The Neo guy was pretty cool. Stayed in character the whole time. One of the guys in the building dressed up as Slenderman. I honestly wanted to give this guy a high-five. I think I’m missing the scare factor of Slenderman. 

Because Slenderman and Neo dancing to Gangnam style is the best thing that cane happen.

One of the girls who attended the party carved the direwolf of House Stark into a pumpkin. It was awesome and woke up the inner Game of Thrones fangirl in me. House Stark is my house, guys!

And on the other side: “Winter is Coming”

I happened to catch this picture of the sunset. I love the colors the sunset produces. It’s the prettiest color scheme I’ve ever seen, and I’m rather fond of the intense reds that show up. This picture caught a lot of the yellows and made it brighter, which was odd. But this is pretty nonetheless.

Requests?

I consider this a milestone for myself. After months of being unable to take requests, I’m back to doing it. This time around, I have to ask them to pay me a little, because I can’t keep buying yarn for projects then realize I’m slowly killing my wallet. It won’t be ridiculously expensive, but reasonably priced, depending on the item they want made. I’m fine with crochet or knitting, so it’s all good!

My best friend, Brittany, wants a normal scarf with a fox head on one end and a tail on the other. That could cost her a little bit, simply because of the head and tail. >.w< That’s why this makes sense to me. XD

But yes. o3o I’m excited to going back to doing requests. Woooo~ I feel good